NEW MIDDLETOWN - East Liverpool's human highlight reel made two more memorable plays to spark his team to a victory.
Pennsylvania led 7-0 early in the second quarter, but keyed by two big plays by Marky Thompkins Ohio scored 19 unanswered points en route to a 19-7 victory in the 33rd Annual Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic Friday night at Springfield High School.
"It feels great to be able to play football again and to end it on a victory," Thompkins said.
Ohio head coach Andrew Connor said the win was a special one for the Buckeyes.
"It means a lot," he said. "The congratulations part of this will be to the kids, because they went out and they earned this. I thought they put in two hard weeks. They played very physical at practice. We conditioned hard, and I think it prepared us for the third and fourth quarters.
"It was a grueling game. It was kind of like everyone just lined up and played smash-mouth football. There was a little bit of passing here and there, and I think our kids handled it well.
"I thought they were bigger than we were, and I thought we handled that. We did the two things we stressed all weeks; we played physical and we played fast, and I thought that helped us wear them down."
The series is now 23-10 in favor of Pennsylvania.
"It's huge," Edison's Shane O'Brien said. "That's all we have been hearing about lately is how PA has won the last how many games, and Ohio is not going to win and we are the underdogs, so to come out here and get the win I think that is a huge proof of what kind of team we have and what kind of talent we had on the team this year."
Thompkins' first big play came in the second quarter. With his team down 7-0, Thompkins was able to elude multiple defenders en route to a long punt return, and a facemask penalty set the Buckeyes up at the Keystoners' 35-yard line.
Five plays later, Indian Creek's Mark Ludewig scored on a 1-yard run, and East Palestine's Jake DiCello's extra point tied the score at 7 with 5:31 left to play in the first half.
Thompkins made his second big play of the game in the third quarter.
With the game still deadlocked at 7, Pennsylvania attempted a trick play in hopes of finally breaking through the stingy Buckeyes' defense. For a moment, it looked like the trick pass was going to work as the intended target beat Thompkins on the play.
With the ball in the air, Thompkins was able to use his speed to make up the necessary ground, and he ended up intercepting the pass giving the ball back to the Buckeyes at the Ohio 19.
"I just noticed he beat me, and I just turned around and I ran," Thompkins said. "I got to it."
O'Brien broke through the Pennsylvania defense for a 43-yard gain on the next snap.
Later, Steubenville's William Houst capped the 11-play 81-yard drive by plowing into the end zone from the 3 to give Ohio a 13-7 lead with 9:56 left to play in the game.
"It feels good to get the win and to bring it back to Ohio," Houst said. "It feels good."
After forcing Pennsylvania to punt on its next possession, Ohio put the game away on the ensuing drive.
Russell capped the drive with a 5-yard scoring scamper to the wide side of the field making the score 19-7 with 2:06 remaining.
Ohio forced Pennsylvania to turn the ball over on downs on its next possession, and the Buckeyes ran out the clock from that point.
O'Brien and Houst not only brought back to Jefferson County, but each player also brought home an award.
O'Brien was named as Ohio's Player of the Game.
"That is something that I can't believe it even happened," O'Brien said. "It's just you got here among all of this talent and all of these players and to come out with an MVP that is something special. That is something you remember for the rest of your life."
Meanwhile, Houst was one of the Buckeyes' Linemen of the Game. Houst shared the honor with Western Reserve's Tyler Powell.
"It means a lot because it means I showed out for the Ohio D-line and I did what I had to do for my team," Houst said.
Pennsylvania scored the first points of the game less than a minute into the second quarter.
On a fourth down play, Dustin Creel made a leaping catch in the end zone to complete a 34-yard scoring hook up from quarterback Dylan Bongiorni with 11:02 to play before halftime. The extra point sailed through the uprights giving the visitors a 7-0 advantage.
The game, slated for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, was delayed by lightning and weather concerns and did not get underway until 9:15 p.m.